National Unplugged Day may save friendships


How often have you been spending time with a friend when, in the middle of a conversation, he or she has whipped out his/her phone to reply to a text? My answer would be a number somewhere close to the population of Finland (which, if you are wondering, is roughly five million).

Although nothing is ever said, the message sent by reaching into your pocket is clear: “I am so uninterested in our discussion that I feel the need to talk to someone who is not even inside of this room.” Often this person never means to be intentionally rude; however, in my mind, it is considerably the opposite of what one might consider “polite” manners. But my complaint stems further than just proper etiquette. My annoyance is centered fully on the machine allowing such impertinent actions: the cell phone itself.

Some may say it is wrong to shoot the messenger; I say there is an exception to every rule. People develop these bad manners because they have acquired the means by which to carry them out. Therefore, if cell phones did not exist, neither would the rudeness. This entire problem all comes from a rapidly growing situation I have dubbed the iPhone Dilemma. I recently made a poll and discovered that 16 out of the 20 friends I talk to own some sort of iPhone, 9 of them being fourth generation or higher. I find this number to be ridiculous. The idea of this ratio regarding the school or even Castro Valley itself, quite frankly, somewhat frightens me.

The super-wave of technology that has drowned us these past couple of decades has left us clinging to our phones, computers, and tablets as our only life preservers. We feel the almost constant need to use electronics. And although I cannot completely denounce these actions, I believe that our need for them has become far too strong for our own good. Electronics have improved our lifestyles, but we are now letting them control our lives, causing us to be habitually changing our Facebook status, playing games, and, yes, texting in the middle of conversations. I admit, I know how enjoyable it is to download new apps and exchange messages with friends. We don’t, however, need to keep our iPods as close to us as the IV of a terminally ill patient. We need to change.

So how do we free ourselves from our electronic addiction? I found the answer, ironically, while flipping through articles on the web. I was reading up on the latest news one night when I noticed that it happened to be National Unplugged Day, an unofficial holiday devoted to challenging oneself to spend 24 hours with absolutely no phone, computer, or other electronic. I had caught the memo a little late, of course, but sitting there that night, I decided to shut off the computer and do something else. And, quite unsurprisingly, I managed to have a perfectly normal night.

Now, I am urging you all to do the same. No, you do not have to freeze your phones in blocks of ice and or go live outside in a tent with no technology. All I ask is to be more aware of the time you spend staring at a screen each day. Maybe then we can all realize how much time goes down the drain just by uploading photos and making a new status. And maybe, finally, we can put the phone down and actually talk to the friends next to us.


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